Stories happen. As I visited my hometown of Oakland, CA a few weeks ago, I waited for an order of fresh fish from a local restaurant. The young gentleman behind the counter was cordial as usual. During my last visit I overheard his conversation about a book he was reading as he helped another customer and how we was going to read the second one. If you know me……my ears perk when you say ‘book’, but it didn’t appear to interest me, so I didn’t take further interest. Besides, it probably wasn’t related to children’s literature.
Yesterday, I happen to see a book next to him on the counter (Yep, I’m back; my mom likes their fish ;}) called: The Policing of Latino and African-American boys: Punished, by Victor Rios. The cover looked like a graphic novel, and I made a mental note to Google it when I got home because I was beginning to wonder about this young man. Was he a college student? He’s not African-American or Latino what are this young man’s interests?
Upon looking the book up on Amazon, I became intrigued because the scenarios Rios discussed reflect the scenarios I’ve witness in a number of elementary classrooms. Young African-American and Latino boys are often labeled as troublesome, disturbing and unmotivated. This begins a vicious cycle that repeats itself as they progress through school until they haven given in and begin to fulfill the prophesies cast upon them. Instead of seeing themselves as included in the classroom community, they see themselves as rejected and excluded.
Victor Rios provides us with a framework to offset this paradigm. He urges us to begin to see their assets instead of their deficits, to label them at-promise instead of ‘at-risk’, and to trick them into believing in themselves because of how much we believe in them.
Today my friends, let’s “Teach to their hearts, so their minds will follow,” Victor Rios.
See his inspiring TED talk here,